RUMORS STARTED BY UNION-FED ‘USEFUL IDIOTS’
A rumor floated on Twitter late Sunday had Southeast Alaska social media users spun up. The person who posted it reported that the Malaspina, an Alaska State ferry, had been improperly put in cold storage, the pipes had bursts, and the boat was flooded. Not only that, he wrote, the artwork on the ship was “looted” because there was no watchman on duty.
In fact, a minor pipe froze and burst, which cause a minor amount of water in four staterooms, according to the Alaska Marine Highway. There was no lasting damage and the water was cleaned up promptly.
The ferry, moored in Ward Cove near Ketchikan, has not been looted. The art was removed by Department of Transportation for safe keeping and is being stored off the ship. Kitchen items were also not looted, as reported, but some were removed by staff for use on other vessels.
All of this happened a couple of weeks ago but idle ferry workers are pushing rumors out on social media platforms through “useful idiots who are taking the bait,” according to a source inside AMHS.
The Malaspina was scheduled for an overhaul this winter, after it was discovered that it needed extensive steel replacement, at the cost of more than $16 million, plus another $24 million to refurbish the vessel. The funds have not been available for all that is needed for the 56-year-old boat, which still has the original engines in it.
Right now the Malaspina is sitting in warm storage, hooked up to shore power, under the care of a private contractor, while awaiting decisions from lawmakers about whether the state can afford the $40 million needed to repair the vessel, one of the original ships in the fleet of the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Last week, the Alaska Marine Highway System issued a request for information to determine interest from marine charter companies about the services they can provide to communities along the Marine Highway System’s route. Specifically, AMHS is trying to establish interim passenger and freight service for the northern Panhandle, now that the ferries have been unexpectedly sidelined.
AMHS anticipates that the updated Spring/Summer service will include special runs to accommodate the Cordova fishery.
The Matanuska is anticipated to return to service on March 2. The Tazlina is scheduled to return to service on March 5. Schedules are available at http://dot.alaska.gov/amhs/.